Wednesday, March 22, 2017

He Needs Us to Trust Him, and We Can’t

James Fallows followed Donald Trump throughout the 2016 election and wrote an invaluable series of daily briefs on how Trump was not a normal candidate and how he blew through all of the conventional requirements that virtually all of our previous presidents followed. Today, he eviscerates the idea that, when there's a national security crisis, Trump will settle down and act like a "normal" president:

Something has happened to every new president, and something will happen to Donald Trump. It is inevitable. And when that something occurs, it is also inevitable that his administration will need to say, Trust us on this. That’s in the nature of foreign emergencies. It can take a long time to figure out the truth. And even when the truth is known, some of it remains too sensitive to reveal. (Who exactly were the Bay of Pigs invaders hoping to find as allies inside Castro’s Cuba? What exactly was aboard the U.S. surveillance plane that was forced down onto Chinese territory?) So without having all the facts on the table and in public view, and administration inevitably relies on a cushion of domestic and international trust that it is telling some version of the truth, that it is doing its best to weigh evidence and be straight about the results.

The inevitability of this moment, when a new president says Trust me, is why so many veteran officials have warned against Donald Trump’s habit of incessantly telling instantly disprovable lies. Some of the lies don’t really matter: “biggest inaugural crowd ever,” when photos showed it was comparatively small. Some of them obviously would, if true: millions of illegal voters, wiretapped by Obama. But of course they’re not true, and everyone except Trump and his coterie can look at the evidence and know that. Thus the problem: If an administration will lie about facts where the contradictory evidence is in plain sight, how can we possibly believe them on anything else?

The simple fact is, we can't trust Trump because he hasn't been honest. Ever. Any Republican who still thinks that Trump will throw a switch when things get serious and turn into Ronald Reagan is delusional at best. This is the best Trump they're ever going to get, and this is as reasonable and as presidential as he's ever going to be. We are seriously fucked because of this stark reality.

Fallows is essential reading for me, and I hope he is for you as well. A president without a shred of credibility is a disaster waiting to happen--a disaster that is going to cost lives. If something does happen, Trump won't hesitate to obfuscate, deny, and blame someone else. We already know that he has virtually ignored the presidential daily briefs and that he is not intellectually honest enough to admit that he does not know what he's doing. He's surrounded by scoundrels and worse. So, Fallows is exactly right when he says "he needs us to trust him, and we can't."

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